Category Archives: Community Outreach

Automotive Dean’s service celebrated at annual potluck, department continues Toys for Tots donation

Dunwoody Automotive students loading up their lunch plates at the annual holiday potluck event in the Warren buildingFor the past two decades or so, Dunwoody’s Automotive Department has celebrated the holiday season in a memorable way. The Warren Building is festively decorated; long banquet tables are packed with crock-pot treats; Toys for Tots donations are collected; and students celebrate the end of their final exams and presentations.

This year, however, the annual holiday potluck was even more special than usual as students, staff and faculty bid farewell to Automotive Dean Jon Kukachka who is set to retire January 15.

Kukachka leaves Dunwoody with fond memories

Dunwoody Automotive students loading up their lunch plates at the annual holiday potluck event in the Warren building

“The holiday potlucks are definitely something that Automotive graduates remember about their time here,” Kukachka said. “I am going to miss events like these. The students have always been very special to me.”

Kukachka–who has provided the College with over 30 years of service–has been the program’s dean since 2010.

Retiring Dunwoody Automotive Dean Jon Kukachka speaking to Automotive students at the annual holiday potluck event “I have tried to be the kind of dean that students would not be afraid to talk to,” he said. “I wanted students to know that they could come to me about anything—good or bad—whatever was on their mind,” he said.

Faculty applaud student’s Toys for Tots donation

While the farewell was bittersweet, Kukachka was pleased to learn that the Automotive department did well in another  Toys for Tots fundraiser.

“The department has been donating to Toys for Tots ever since Dunwoody got involved with the program in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s,” Kukachka said. “It has become a tradition that the Auto Department does well so every year we try to instill that drive into our students.”

This year a friendly competition was implemented throughout the College with a first place prize of $150 awarded to the department who raised the most dollars and/or collected the most toys.

During the potluck, Automotive donations were totaled, revealing a grand total of about $2,000 in cash and toys—more than any other department.

Dunwoody Automotive students standing next to toys being donated to Toys for Tots

Program faculty decided to continue the season of giving by also donating their $150 winnings to the toy drive.

Kukachka says that this is the most the Automotive department has ever raised, making it a department—and quite possibly a Dunwoody—record.

Dunwoody College wishes Kukachka all the best

“This year’s potluck was very special to me,” Kukachka said.

“I will miss the people—both students and coworkers. I came here in 1980 wondering if I had made the right decision to change occupations. I know now that yes, I made the right decision to work at Dunwoody.”

On behalf of Dunwoody’s students, faculty and staff, the College wishes Kukachka all the best on his retirement.

Dunwoody hosts MIE meeting to help enhance international students’ experience

Dr. Leo Parvis talking to audience at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyThe College recently welcomed members from Minnesota International Educators (MIE) as they attended a board meeting on campus. The MIE is a professional association that works to help staff and educators in international student admissions and/or services create a positive experience for international students across the state of Minnesota.

“We decided to host the meeting at Dunwoody because we wanted to bring more visibility to the College. We wanted other schools to know where we are located and that we do accept international students,” said International Student Admissions Counselor Meera Weist. “It is also a great opportunity to find out what other colleges are doing and determine what we can and should incorporate here as well.”

MIE board member talking to audience at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyThe three-hour meeting included updates from the MIE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP); a discussion on immigration changes; and a student panel.

The panel—consisting of international students from MCAD, UM-Twin Cities and St. Olaf College who are also part of the LGTBQ community—described how their gender identity and/or sexual orientation affected their study abroad experience, and what educators can do to help improve it.

MIE board members and guests discussing updates at October MIE Meeting at Dunwoody College of TechnologyA first time event for Dunwoody, Weist says the meeting was an excellent way for the Dunwoody Admissions team to continue to understand—and enhance—international student’s stay here in the Twin Cities.

If you are an international student looking to continue your education at Dunwoody, please contact Weist at mwiest@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody Hosts Waterborne Spray Paint Training and Demonstration

Dunwoody’s Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing Department recently held a free, six-hour training session on aqueous paint systems for collision repair. The training was followed by an in-booth waterborne base coat and clear coat spot repair demonstration.

A photo of a Dunwoody classroom filled with event attendees

The purpose of the training was to inform the public—especially those in the automotive industry—the benefits of using, and properly applying, waterborne paint, instead of traditional solvent-based paint, on a newly repaired vehicle.

Nearly 30 individuals participated in the demo, including representatives from Heppner’s Auto Body & Collision Repair; Keystone Refinish (LKQ Corp); Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MNTAP); University of Northern Iowa Waste Reduction Center; Environmental Initiative Group; Kansas State University; PPG Automotive Refinish; and the City of Minneapolis were in attendance.

The training comes at a time when many auto repair shops are adopting the more environmentally friendly paint system technologies.

The Benefits of Using Waterborne Based Paint

Over the last few years, water-borne based paints have gained A photo of the waterborne paint expert talking at the event inside Dunwoody's waterborne spray paint booth traction around the U.S. and internationally. They have been proven to:

  • Produce better color matches;
  • Improve spot repairs;
  • Reduce solvent exposure;
  • Emit fewer air pollutants; and
  • Produce less hazardous waste–making them a popular choice in many auto repair shops.

Due to this shift in technology, Dunwoody installed a waterborne spray paint booth in its Collision Repair Shop earlier this year. The booth was made possible through several donations and a grant from the City of Minneapolis. Since then, the Automotive Collision & Repair program’s curriculum has drastically changed, focusing heavily on waterborne-paint application.

Event Attendees Learn Best Practices from Local Professionals

Dunwoody’s curriculum, additional grant opportunities from the City of Minneapolis, and waterborne paint application tips and techniques, were discussed at the event. Attendees were also able to participate in a virtual paint demonstration, which analyzes a person’s spray technique, rates their overall performance, and provides helpful feedback on how the painter can improve.

The program concluded with an actual waterborne spray paint demonstration inside Dunwoody’s paint booth.

Make the Switch to Waterborne: Learn MoreA photo of event attendees listening to the waterborne spray paint demonstration inside Dunwoody's spray paint booth

Dunwoody’s seminar was held in conjunction with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) at the University of Minnesota; Environment
al Initiative; the City of Minneapolis; and MPCA’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP). All organizations aim to improve air quality, eliminate waste, and better train local painters.

For more information on waterborne paint, contact Bruce Graffunder. For financial assistance opportunities to fund your shift to waterborne paint, contact the City of Minneapolis, MN Tap, or the Environmental Initiative Group.

Dunwoody & Mortenson Construction Win “Best Meal Award” at 2015 CANstruction

Team Donates 6,000 + Canned Goods to Second Harvest Heartland

IMG_2033-smallDunwoody’s Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department teamed up with Mortenson Construction for the 2015 Minneapolis CANstruction fundraiser—an annual event where participating teams build colossal structres made entirely out of cans of food.

The CANstruction team earned the “Best Meal” Award at the event, which was held at the Mall of America last month. The award is given annually to the team that uses the most nourishing, protein-packed food items.

Proceeds from the Minneapolis event were given to Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization.

There are over 150 CANstruction events held throughout the world each year.

Minnesota History Inspires 2015 CANstruction Sculpture Theme

IMG_8751-smallThe 2015 sculpture—designed and built by Interior Design and Construction Management students–was themed “Feast Like a Viking.” Cans of beans, tomatoes, vegetables and coconut milk made up the ship—complete with oars, a mast, sail and dragon head—while cans of tuna were used to represent ocean waves.

The CANstruction team chose the Viking theme because it represents the rich history of Minnesota. The voyage of Leif Erikson—who is often considered to be the first European to discover America—was recreated in 1927, with a final landed in Duluth, Minnesota. Journal entries from that expedition were kept and often detailed the crew’s difficulty in finding fresh fish and ripe vegetables.

This inspired the CANstruction team’s motto, which is “no-one’s ‘voyage through life’ should be limited by hunger”…especially today.

CANstruction Provides Students with Beneficial, Real World Experience

The entire project lasted about five weeks. During that time, Mortenson Construction and Dunwoody students not only designed the sculpture but also collected more than 6,000 cans of food.

Interior Design Principal Instructor and CANstruction Coordinator Cindy Martimo said that although the students were working with canned goods, the project did require students to use skills and best practices they would also perform on a real job.

“It required two very different departments to work together—especially on build day,” said Martimo. “Only five people could build at a time. So those who weren’t building had to provide various levels of support to the builders by unpacking boxes, passing cans, etc. The team had to practice time management, communicate with one another, follow a set of plans, and ultimately create the structure they designed.”

Click below to view a timelapse video of the CANstruction team assembling the sculpture at the event.

This is the fourth year the Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department has participated in a CANstruction event, and, according to Martimo, the students support and dollars raised grow each time.

“The event has really become a great opportunity for our students,” she said. “They get to be creative, design something and raise money for charity. In addition, their creations are judged by the very people who might someday offer them a job. The other teams out on the floor are all architecture and engineering firms. These are people that the students will be working with –or be hired by–one day. To have that kind of industry presence and to be able to add the CANstruction event to their resumes is very beneficial.”

Get Involved in CANstruction 2016

The Construction Sciences & Building Technology Department plans to continue the event next year. The project is open to all students in the Department. 

To get involved in CANstruction 2016, contact Cindy Martimo at cmartimo@dunwoody.edu.

 

A big thank you to this year’s sponsors: Mortenson Construction, Parsons Electric, Custom Drywall, and Ames Construction

Women in Technical Careers Scholarship Provides More Than Financial Support

Women in Technical Careers (WITC) is Dunwoody’s new scholarship program designed to help women students succeed in technical degree programs at Dunwoody. Recipients of the scholarship receive $20,000 in scholarship funding and childcare assistance if needed.

IMG_0581

However, WITC is much more than just financial assistance. It also serves as a series of support services and networks–all designed to remove barriers that often prevent women from seeking non-traditional professions.

“Throughout their time at Dunwoody, WITC students participate in a cohort program, a mentorship program and monthly professional development workshops. They also have direct, one-on-one support from an advisor,” said Women’s Enrollment Coordinator Maggie Whitman. “While the scholarship funding helps, it’s these support services that really make a difference.”

IMG_1692Perhaps one of the most successful support services offered is the mentorship program. Modeled after research findings on the best way to support women students in a technical career, the program pairs each student with a local, successful woman in the same profession.

Mentors include women such as Claire Ferrara, Interim Executive Director of MEDICO; Cathy Heying, Founder of The Lift Garage; Karin McCabe, Workforce and Vendor Outreach Coordinator from McGough Construction; and many more.

“The mentorship program is important because it connects our students with women who are experienced at navigating workplacesIMG_1747 where few women work,” Whitman said. “Mentors can share job searching advice, industry information, and personal experiences that will prepare our students for their lives after graduation. It’s important for our students to hear this type of feedback and advice from women who have had similar life experiences. A simple, ‘I’ve been there, and I made it through…’ can go a long way.”

The mentorship program officially kicked off last month at a social event on campus. Students and their mentors were able to meet in person for the first time and get to know one another over appetizers and beverages.

“The students were very excited to meet so many professional women in their chosen careers,” Whitman said. “I also heard from the mentors that they appreciated the opportunity to network with other professional women. I think this program will be beneficial for everyone involved.”

IMG_1750Mentors and students will meet in person several more times throughout the next two years. They will also communicate regularly online.

The WITC scholarship was awarded to 22 women in 2015. The students are currently enrolled in programs like Automotive, Computer Technology, Robotics & Manufacturing and Construction Sciences & Building Technology.

The WITC students are expected to graduate in Spring of 2017.

Learn more about Women in Technical Careers.

Dunwoody-Built Fish House To Be Raffled at Rebuilding Together Twin Cities Fundraiser

Exterior photo of Dunwoody College student-built fish house.Over the last seven months, Dunwoody students and faculty have been building a one-of-a-kind, luxury fish house. The house is part of a fundraising project for Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, which makes critical home repairs for Twin Cities’ homeowners in need.

The 128 square-foot house was designed and built by Dunwoody students and faculty from Construction Management, Interior Design, Welding, and HVAC Installation & Residential Service programs.

The fish house will be raffled at Rebuilding Together Twin Cities’ Flannel Fling event on Friday, Oct. 30, at Nicollet Island Pavilion. The fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. and will also include a live and silent auction; local craft beer; dinner; live entertainment; games and much more.

Raffle tickets for the fish house are $20 each with proceeds benefiting Rebuilding Together Twin Cities and Dunwoody College of Technology.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, contact Heather Gay at hgay@dunwoody.edu.

Welding Students Showcase Skills at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is often thought of as a place to eat fried cheese curds, groove to a concert in the Grandstand and visit the livestock barns, but for the second year in a row attendees were also able to learn how to weld at the Careers in Welding trailer. The 53-foot trailer, which houses five virtual welding stations, was at the fair Aug. 27-30.

Virtual welding stations housed in the Careers in Welding trailer

The exhibit was sponsored by the American Welding Association (AWS) and Lincoln Electric and staffed, in part, by Dunwoody instructors and students. In fact, Dunwoody welding instructors Mike Reeser and Mark Schwendeman – along with 15 of their students – generously volunteered over 135 man-hours. Reeser, Schwedeman and their students also put on a “best of the best” contest to compete against one another and showcase the high-quality skills taught through Dunwoody’s Welding program, which offers both a certificate and a two-year degree.

Impressed by the number and caliber of the Dunwoody students, Lincoln Electric decided to donate a brand new 300 amp welder to the College.

Dunwoody Student with a virtual welder machine

“this 300 amp welder will allow us to continue offering students the newest technology in Gas Metal Arc Welding/Mig (GMAW),” Reeser said.

 Click here for more information about Dunwoody’s Welding degrees.

Dunwoody gives out Outstanding Engineering & Design Awards at Minnesota State High School Robotics Championship

Earlier this month, Dunwoody College of Technology gave out three Outstanding Engineering & Design Awards at the Minnesota State High School Robotics Championship on Saturday, which was held at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

Dean of Robotics & Manufacturing E.J. Daigle judged each of the 32 teams and selected 3 teams for a new award, which recognizes robotics teams that exhibit unique engineering and/or design solutions.  The award acknowledges that while winning the tournament is a major achievement,  innovation can from creative thinking, experimentation, failure and budgetary and/or engineering constraints.

The award was given to FIRST Robotics Team 2530 Inconceivable from Rochester,  Team 4009 Denfeld Nation Automation (DNA) from Duluth Denfeld, and Team 3055 Furious George from Austion. Winning teams received both a trophy and cash prize of $500 for the team to use for 
materials, training and other costs to compete in future years.

Dunwoody has been a friend and sponsor of Minnesota State High School League’s FIRST Robotics competition for several years, but this is the first year that the College has given out an award.

Dunwoody Students Tylor Klish (Welding) and James Olson (Automated Systems & Robotics) staffed a table at the tournament and told interested students and parents about Dunwoody programs and promoted this summer’s STEM Camp.

Also: check out an Austin Daily Herald story on the Furious George team.